We had a great time in Albert Lea with some good weather, a good party, and good food. This contest is held at the Freeborn County fairgrounds. This was our fourth or fifth event held at a fairgrounds and I'm really starting to appreciate these venues. They almost all have excellent power, are on grass, and have water available...three things that make the events much more enjoyable for us.
Matt and I make the forty five minute trek Friday morning and got everything setup and the meats prepped. This contest had a peoples choice chicken wings contest that we participated in. It was important to get everything else done Friday afternoon as we knew we would be messing with the wings most of the evening. Brian, Jeff, and their families along with several of Kim's co-workers joined us Friday night for supper and a drink or two. Everyone had a great time Friday night and we even managed to kill most of a $50 bottle of Jack that belonged to our neighbor Tony. He was a good sport about it and probably had a shot or ten out of it as well.
The meats cooked without incident overnight and the ribs and chicken went on as scheduled Saturday morining. The turnins went very well, we really have this process down at this point in the year. The chicken was some of the best I had made in a while as far as tenderness went but we were a little concerned we had overdone the pepper a bit. We scrambled to attempt to sweeten them up. As you will see below it either worked or the judges like pepper :-). The ribs looked great with about an hour to go but by the time we got them off the smoker and into the turn in box the had overcooked considerably. This is something like the third time I have done that this year, and I am changing our timing up a bit for the rest of the year. The pork was pork like usual. When we sliced the brisket I knew it was money. I got to the "sweet spot" for slices and they were some of the prettiest and moistest slices I have ever seen. The flavor was spot on and the burnt ends melted like butter...it was going to be a good brisket day!
At the start of the awards ceremony they announced that there had been two perfect scores that day. A perfect score is all 9's in all three judged categories from all five counted judges resulting in a 180 point score. This is a somewhat rare feat (I have heard about twenty are given out a year with many coming from categories other than the main four meats). There were several "other" categories at the event and I assumed the 180's we in those events as that is the only place I had ever seen the perfect score. Sure enough they get to dessert and 1st place had a 180 perfect score. I was a bit suprised when they got to brisket without the other 180 (I think everyone was). They go throught spots 10-2 and no TippyCanoe BBQ Crew...I will be honest, I was starting to get upset, how could that not have been a top 10 entry? They really built up the 1st places and when they finally got to brisket they again mentioned that 1st place brisket had received a perfect score...I nearly fell over when we heard our name for that 180 point first place brisket! It will be one of the highlights of our rookie year and something I will never forget. After the awards I was told that this win will get us an invite into the Chest to Chest Invitational Brisket only contest to be held in Great Bend Kansas in July of 2010. Kansas in July may be a bit tough but I think we can handle it! After the event a representative from KCBS told me that this was only the second 180 given for Brisket in 2009 in the entire Country!
Big Island Barbeque - Aug 29, 2009
Albert Lea, MN
Out of 49 Teams
4th Place - OVERALL
3rd Place - CHICKEN
35th Place - RIBS
16th Place - PORK
1st Place - BRISKET
Our overcooked ribs really killed us but that is that way it goes and why it is so hard to win in this game. I guess it gives me something to work on in September! The guys and I are headed to Vermillion South Dakota next weekend and I can't wait to get back in and try again.